The seed was planted a long time ago when I was in high school in Hong Kong. I remember seeing rows of rock specimens displayed inside wooden and glass cabinets. It seemed like someone put those there a long time ago, but nobody cared about them anymore. I decided that someday I would find out myself what those rocks are. I first chose geology as major but later figured out that I was bad with names. Since I was very good in math and physics, I ended up being a geophysicist, specializing in plate tectonics. Of course, there were spiritual reasons too, which still ring true. By studying the earth in its previous form hundreds of millions years ago, before any human being even existed, I can truly appreciate the beauty of the God of ages waiting all these years for His creative works be made known by His creations.
Mathematics was my favourite subject at school and this was what I choose to study at university. After graduating I moved into ocean modelling for my Ph.D. and followed this with postdoctoral research in ice sheet modelling. I wanted to use the power and elegance of mathematics to better understand the beautiful world that God has gifted us.
I chose to study Chemistry in University because of my Chemistry and Physics teacher, Mr. Morrison. Although I enjoyed all my subjects and did well in them, Mr. Morrison was not only an excellent teacher but also a gracious and caring person who took some interest in me as a student and as a young person. He inspired me to become a high-school teacher. I took a B. Sc. at the University of Guelph with a major in Chemistry and a minor in Physics and quite a bit of Biology as well. Inspired by a Christian study group to which I was introduced by my pastor, whose son studied at the U of G’s veterinary college, I decided I needed a Christian philosophy as well (and I still needed a Christian woman as my wife). To those two ends, I went to Calvin University for one year and learned more of the Reformational philosophy and worldview from Dr. H. Evan Runner. After that, I became a teacher, principal, and program director in a variety of independent Christian schools in Ontario and British Columbia.
As a child I was fascinated with biology, but by the time university came around I thought I would become a medical doctor. I took a BSc in biology intending to go on to medical school, but fell in love with biology (again) and decided to pursue a PhD instead.
My early interest in science was piqued in a grade 11 chemistry course when students often came to me for help on their assignments. After finishing high school, I continued my chemistry studies at university, culminating in a PhD in physical organic chemistry. After this point, I really wanted to teach at a university, but soon realized that there were very few positions of this nature available. Thus I went to work in the polymer industry doing research as well as assisting sales personnel in marketing new products. This lasted for nearly 7 enjoyable years. Eventually, a position opened at Trinity Western University, and I decided to leave my career in industry and join TWU’s chemistry department. In retrospect, although I hadn’t initially wanted to work in industry, it turned out that what I learned during that period of my career was deeply valuable for my teaching and later administrative work. I had no difficulty finding many application areas, and stories, that I could use to spice up my classes. While teaching at TWU I began to get very interested in environmental issues and wanted to respond to God’s call on Christians to be part of environmental solutions rather than just the problem. As the university grew, I began to shift more into administration and eventually became Dean of Science. This allowed me to sponsor important new programs such as environmental studies and biotechnology. I was also able to effectively promote the integration of Christian principles into science courses. Over more than 35 years at TWU, my career has been incredibly rewarding, and I still enjoy mentoring and encouraging younger faculty to see their disciplines through the lens of Scripture.
I chose computer science because I wanted to learn techniques to create websites, analyze big data, and come up with algorithms to solve interesting problems.
Well, that is a story! My journey to an academic life was neither pre-destined nor a random walk. Yet looking back it seems like there were elements of both. I grew up on a rural acreage, near a lake, in the age of “free-range children.” At our house, mom gave us three guiding rules: “Go outside; find something to do; stay out of trouble.” That is an invitation to become a biologist! Then in high school, my pastor said, “We need men like you in the ministry.” So, he arranged for the financing I needed for university. From then on, a number of inspiring instructors let me expand into my love of insects and aquatic systems. Most importantly, on graduation, the department chair gave me an ASA student subscription that launched me into this society. So, while there were many other potential career paths, the love of teaching from the natural world drew me on through a PhD and four decades in Christian Higher Education.
By default: I was in a BSc degree at McGill, and psychology was the closest discipline in Science to theology.
I was fascinated by math as a fantastic tool for explaining how the world works, and I like to break concepts down into their simple parts. This led me to explore string theory, which was just coming into vogue around the time of my PhD. Now in retirement from industry, I remain interested in physics at its most elementary level (if there is such a thing). Given how closely God’s cognition is tied to creation through His word, I’d also like to understand the cognitive and spiritual context of theoretical physics, even though they are outside of the physics discipline.
TWU• Corpus Christi College • UBC In November, Andrew Davison will give three talks in the Vancouver area. One of the founders of the Cambridge Leverhulme Centre for Life in the Universe, Andrew Davison is the Starbridge Professor of Theology and Natural Sciences at the University of Cambridge, and Fellow in Theology and Dean of Chapel at Corpus Christi College. He is the author of many books, including Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphysics and Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine: Exploring the Implications of Life in the Universe (both Cambridge University Press). Talks 1 and 2 are …